For the first time, a line has been drawn.
Saturday's Crosstown Lacrosse Classic at the East Side Sports Complex in St. Charles marks the first time varsity boys teams representing both St. Charles East and St. Charles North will face each other. After operating as a unified body for some 15 years, the St. Charles Lacrosse Club has split its boys programs. The girls team remains a co-op.
The 4 p.m. match between the Saints (0-3) and North Stars (1-3) is indeed a civil war.
"I think it's a friendly rivalry," said North junior defender Michael Rerko, who noted that in-school announcements have promoted the match, the first time he recalls the club-level sport receiving such publicity.
"It's a big deal for a lot of us that have played together before," Rerko said. "I wouldn't say there's much aggression because there's not much of a title to take yet, nothing's been won. There's no defending champion."
In 2011 the St. Charles Lacrosse Club went 15-5 overall and 6-1 to win the title of the A-level DuPage Conference, amassing the state's fourth-best power-rating according to the LAXpower website.
Now the boys practice on the same field, but that's it. They do miss playing together, but figure there's a benefit to developing individual programs, and more roster spots.
"It's kind of cool that we can split up and work toward becoming, like, a school sport," said St. Charles East senior attack Matt O'Brien.
Rerko said: "There's a lot of talent on East and a lot of talent on North. Together we would have had a solid program, so that's the only downfall. But on a positive note, it being the first opportunity to split apart and start to create our own identities, it'll be great for future programs and future players for North and East.
"Also, it's great to be able to set up the Crosstown Classic as a rivalry because in the past we haven't had that and in other sports we have."
This familiarity may not have bred contempt, but North head coach Andy Thompson and East head coaches Aaron Vermedal and Chris Conner will run into the same problem other coaches face against teams who've seen each other repeatedly. There will be no secrets.
"They'll have sort of similar offensive and defensive ideas," Rerko said. "In addition, I've been playing with the kids on the other team my whole life. We know how they play, but on the other side they know how we play."
A certain amount of aggression Saturday will be inevitable. The combatants have respectfully decided that's where any differences will be solved.
"So far there's not a lot of trash-talk between the teams," O'Brien said, "mainly just excitement and anticipation that we finally get to play each other."
Every year for their anniversary Mike Sommerfeld and his wife, Kristin, travel from their home in Crest Hill to the Herrington Inn & Spa in Geneva.
"Wow, it'd be really nice if we could get a job out here and move out here, because I really like the area," Sommerfeld thought.
Voila. The 36-year-old will start his first day as St. Charles East's new athletic director on July 1. The father of four is finishing up a seven-year term as Argo's athletic director and will succeed the Saints' rotation of interim athletic directors Jim Bloch, Jack Drollinger and, currently, Doug Smith.
"I figured if I had not been an AD I'd probably have been a little more nervous about it, but since I have been an athletic director the last seven years I know the job," said Sommerfeld, who brings a master's degree in school administration from Lewis University, a bachelor's in history from Eastern Illinois, five years of teaching at Argo and a couple years teaching at an "alternative school" in Harvey right out of college.
I'm really looking forward to just continuing the great tradition they have out there athletically, I'm very happy to be part of that," he said. "I know they have tremendous community support and I'm really looking forward to that. Argo's got great kids -- I always brag about how great our kids are -- and so does St. Charles, so I'm very exited."
Though Argo can't boast the seven state championships won by St. Charles in the 1998-99 academic year before the split to East and North, Sommerfeld was host to royalty of sorts just this year. The Summitt high school hosted a Class 4A boys basketball sectional in March, and the sold-out semifinal between Simeon and Whitney Young attracted Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, Ohio State coach Thad Matta and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
"That was a lot of planning, a lot of phone calls to be made, a lot of planning and preparations," said Sommerfeld, whose high school alma mater, Marist, lost to Simeon in the sectional final.
Soon enough the self-described "people person" will be carting around his oldest child, an 8-year-old boy, to various St. Charles East practices. Like any professional with a young family, Sommerfeld performs a balancing act between home and work responsibilities. He also balances athletic excellence with "character education."
"It's very important to me that our kids represent our school and our community the right way," he said. "That's something I'm always stressing with our coaching staff. It's very, very important to me. If there was one thing to kind of describe what I'm about, everything starts with that."
He also hopes for some classy finishes.
"It'd be great to hold some state title pep assemblies back in the gym," he said. "That'd be cool."
Shortly moving to a new address as well is West Aurora athletic director Andy Lutzenkirchen. After nine years with the Blackhawks after June 30 the 1991 Wheaton Central graduate will shift even closer to his DuPage Valley Conference roots, succeeding the retiring Marty Beet as athletic director for the Naperville Central Redhawks.
"I'm just excited and also a little saddened at same time," Lutzenkirchen said.
The uncle of one of college football's top tight ends, Auburn's Philip Lutzenkirchen, Andy said the appeal of Naperville Central is one of "more teams, more sports, greater participation."
"West Aurora has been a great place for me to start my career," said Lutzenkirchen, who has coached both football and baseball at the high school. "Just giving me the opportunities that may not have come elsewhere as far as starting as an assistant athletic director, then moving into this role."
While loading up with a master's degree in curriculum and instruction from National Louis University and another in administration from his undergrad alma mater, Aurora University, Lutzenkirchen succeeded Randy Konstans at West. The 39-year-old said the highlights of his tenure include the installation of synthetic turf at Ken Zimmerman Field, sending athletes and teams to state competition and on to college participation, and "changing the way we do the fall kickoff, the Jamboree, involving more people."
Headed just that much closer to his Wheaton stamping grounds, some of the people Lutzenkirchen encounters may bring to mind a homecoming.
"It'll be interesting when old names from high school start popping up," he said.
Last week's all-college column missed a couple worthies ...
Earlier this year, St. Charles North graduate Maggie Lundeen, a freshman gymnast at William and Mary, was named the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Association "Rookie of the Week."
At a meet at North Carolina State, the all-arounder posted career-high scores of 9.725 on bars and 9.800 on floor exercise, helping the Tribe post its eighth-best team score on bars in program history and achieve an overall point total that stands as a season high.
Lundeen and William and Mary conclude the season at the USAG Collegiate Championships at the University of Bridgeport (Conn.) this Thursday through Saturday.
This week, Illinois junior pitcher Matt Milroy (Marmion) was named the Big Ten's co-pitcher of the week. Last Sunday in a home game against Indiana he struck out 10 of the 21 batters he faced over 5 innings of scoreless relief. Milroy fanned the side in the third and sixth innings and struck out five straight at one point. His 10 Ks were the most by one pitcher at Illinois Field since 2004.
Though he's more of a post-post-grad achiever, St. Charles East graduate Trae Manny, a former Saints soccer goalkeeper, has been hired by the Eclipse Select Soccer Club as its director of senior goalkeeping, as well as the head of Eclipse Select's College Assistance Program.
One for the future: Fellow St. Charles East grad Stephanie Roan, a sophomore third baseman for 38-5 Kankakee Community College, on Wednesday signed a Letter of Intent to play at St. Cloud State in Minnesota. In 41 games played through Saturday Roan was hitting .483 with a .493 on-base percentage. Her 61 runs-batted in ranked sixth in the nation in NJCAA Division II, her 9 homers tied with several others for 21st.
Heading into Thursday's action, Kankakee -- which had won 34 straight ballgames until Saturday's 7-6 loss to Oakland (Mich.) -- was ranked No. 6 in the country in NJCAA Division II.